Shops or bike clubs looking to link members with a forum may wish to take a look at Microcosm. It was founded by cyclist David Kitchen. His work includes the London Fixed-gear and Singlespeed forum, LFGSS, with over 39,000 registered cyclists. Microcosm is smartphone-friendly and "will keep members engaged and actively participating by providing great user experiences," said Kitchen.
"With LFGSS we saw that technology frequently got in the way of groups of people, making it difficult for group members to talk to each other, arrange short-notice rides, research which equipment people were using and why, and share ride routes. We knew we could make this easier, we knew we could make it accessible and affordable for smaller groups."
He added: "Forums have helped to transform cycling, especially in London, and now we are able to help local clubs benefit from this technology. Cub members already use their mobile phone and the internet heavily, and Microcosm helps to build stronger and bigger cycling clubs."
Microcosm provides advanced functionality that helps support communities but is simple to administer. As well as offering a place for discussions, members can create events, send private messages, and share Garmin routes and Strava updates.
Islington Cycling Club and The Association of Bikeability Schemes have been beta-testing Microcosm and it's now available for other clubs, groups, shops and organisations. It costs £5 per month, with the first 30 days free.
Islington CC, a new cycling club in North London, has seen explosive growth thanks to the use of the web-forum as a virtual clubhouse. David Shannon of Islington CC said: "Islington Cycling Club have been participating in the Microcosm beta for some time, but the full monty knocked our socks off. It is quietly elegant, easy to use and above all, fun. Our forum has become a friendly place at the heart of our club.
TABS, the body that represents the cycle training industry, uses Microcosm to share cycle training best practice and discuss policy. It is also a place where cycling instructors can share ideas. David Dansky of TABS said: "TABS is a small membership organisation. We have been using Microcosm to enable discussions between our members about delivering cycle training. We also host an open forum for cycle trainers to network and share ideas. It is much easier and intuitive to use, even for non technically minded people, than other forums. It looks so much more accessible too."